Chemical and antimicrobial treatments change the viscoelastic properties of bacterial biofilms
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Changes in the viscoelastic material properties of bacterial biofilms resulting from chemical and antimicrobial treatments were measured by rheometry. Colony biofilms of Staphylococcus epidermidis or a mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa were subjected to a classical creep test performed using a parallel plate rheometer. Data were fit to the 4-parameter Burger model to quantify the material properties. Biofilms were exposed to the chloride salts of several common mono-, di-, and tri- valent cations, and to urea, industrial biocides, and antibiotics. Many of these treatments resulted in statistically significant alterations in the material properties of the biofilm. Multivalent cations stiffened the P. aeruginosa biofilm, while ciprofloxacin and glutaraldehyde weakened it. Urea, rifampin, and a quaternary ammonium biocide weakened the S. epidermidis biofilm. In general, there was no correspondence between the responses of the two different types of biofilms to a particular treatment. These results underscore the distinction between the killing power of an antimicrobial agent and its ability to alter biofilm mechanical properties and thereby influence biofilm removal. Understanding biofilm rheology and how it is affected by chemical treatment could lead to improvements in biofilm control.
Jones WL, Sutton MP, McKittrick L, Stewart PS, "Chemical and antimicrobial treatments change the viscoelastic properties of bacterial biofilms," Biofouling, January 2011 27(2):207–215